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Jury Trial – law, procedure and how a decision is reached

Jury Trial – How Your Fate is Decided

A lot is said in the country about the benefits of a jury trial as opposed to trial before the Magistrates’ Court.  It is argued that leaving a decision as to guilt or innocence in the hands of twelve people chosen at random is the fairest way to securing justice.  How does a jury decide your fate?

There is a lot that we do not know about a jury trial

The process of how a jury reaches its decision is generally unknown jury trialhowever.  Laws prevent us from examining real jury decisions and questioning jurors on their findings.

Although there have been lots of academic studies, in reality these shed very little light on the process of the decision making.

We do know the legal process that guides them in their decision making.   Despite the lack of ‘hard proof’ as to the effectiveness of a jury trial, most lawyers actively support trial by jury.

The internet age

The power of Google and social network services such as Facebook or Twitter can present challenges.  Recent publicity has highlighted cases in which jurors have sought information about a case or a defendant from these sources.

jury trial facebook googleThere is a good reason why certain information is withheld from a jury.  This might include, for example, previous convictions of a defendant.  Going behind explicit instructions not to discuss evidence with anyone other than a fellow juror when the jury is assembled, or seeking information from external sources, undermines the integrity of a jury trial.

For this reason, jurors will be given clear warnings throughout the trial process.  The breaking of the rules can lead to a prison sentence for a juror.

A trial starts with twelve jurors

A jury trial will  always start with twelve jurors.   The trial can’t start with fewer jurors.

There are many reasons, however, leading to a trial not always finishing with twelve. Jurors may become sick and be unable to return.  In some rare cases they may be removed from a jury due to some misconduct during the trial. As long as the number of jurors does not fall below nine then a lawful verdict can be reached.

The unanimous verdict

jury trialAt all times, the Judge presiding over the trial will be seeking a unanimous verdict from the jury.  This is a verdict upon which all of the jurors are agreed, whether that is guilty or not guilty.

In the early stages of jury deliberation a Judge is prevented by law from accepting a majority verdict.  There will, however, be a time when a majority decision is permissible. The timing of when that will be will depend very much on the facts of the particular case.

When a majority verdict becomes permissible the jury will be brought back into court by the judge and advised accordingly. Even at that stage, however, the jurors will be asked to continue to try and arrive at a unanimous verdict if that is possible. If this is not possible, then a majority verdict will be acceptable.


In some cases it will become apparent to the Judge that the jury cannot reach a verdict, even a majority one. The Judge will often find this out because the jury will write a note explaining the situation. The contents of that note will usually not be shared with the advocates.  This is because it will often  ‘contain numbers’, meaning how many jurors are voting one way or the other. Such notes remain confidential in all jury trials.

When a deadlock occurs the judge will provide them with a ‘give and take’ direction.  This calls upon all of the  jurors to use their collective wisdom to reach a decision.

The Decision reached

If the jury reaches a unanimous verdict then the issue is settled.  If not, and the time is appropriate for a majority verdict, a majority may be acceptable.

Whether a majority verdict is acceptable depends on the balance of votes.  This will in turn depend on how many jurors remain deciding the trial.

The combinations are:

  • Where there are 12 jurors: 11 – 1 or 10 – 2
  • If there are 11 jurors: 10 -1
  • When there are 10 jurors: 9 – 1

jury trialWhere the jury falls to nine jurors, only a unanimous verdict will be acceptable.

If the verdict is not guilty, the defendant is free to leave court assuming that there are no other matters remaining to be dealt with. When the verdict is guilty, the judge will move on to consider sentencing the defendant.

Back to deadlock?

In the cases where, despite further deliberation, it becomes clear that the jury is deadlocked then the jury will be discharged.  The trial will be over.

In these circumstances, the prosecution may either proceed with a new trial or abandon the trial.  This may be because the trial has exposed weaknesses in the prosecution evidence.

How we can assist in your case

jury trialWe know that the trial process can be difficult,  both for our clients and their families. We will work hard at all stages of that process to explain what stage has been reached, what is going on and what will happen next.

It is your case and you ought not to be reduced to a mere bystander as the legal process occurs around you.

Because we are experienced trial lawyers, we do not lose sight of the person behind the proceedings.

Contact an expert lawyer for a jury trial

We offer Crown Court advocacy and litigation expertise from all of our six offices across the East Midlands.  While we are most regularly preparing cases to be heard before Nottingham and Derby Crown Courts we provide nationwide coverage.

You can find your nearest office here.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.







Jury Trial Success in Pervert Course of Justice Case

nottingham crime solicitor jury trial
Nottingham Crown Court

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Andrew Wesley helped ensure a not guilty verdict for his client who faced jury trial because it was alleged he had perverted the course of justice.

Andrew’s client had already been dealt with by another advocate following his guilty plea to his involvement in an insurance fraud where he had pleaded guilty.

Both cases had been prepared by senior Crown Court litigator Caine Ward.

Crown Court jury trial for perverting the course of justice

This case was related to the fraud. It was said that our client had destroyed an iPhone because it had incriminating photos showing fraudulent accidents.  The phone had been destroyed after our client had been arrested so the police wouldn’t find it.

Andrew Wesley jury trial criminal solicitor advocateThe only evidence that the prosecution had that the phone existed in the first place, let alone was destroyed, came from an ex-partner.  In her statement the incident was dealt with in two or three lines of type so no detail was given at all.

Disclosure was received from the prosecution that showed that she was unhappy with our client following the break up of their relationship.  Further evidence obtained showed that following the break up she had made several unwanted visits to our client’s address.  On each occasion the police had to be called, and on more than one occasion she had to be taken away by the police.  This, and evidence of her hatred for our client seen on screenshots of Messenger conversations, lent support to our client’s argument that she had made up the story to get him into further trouble with the police.

Expert cross-examination of the prosecution witness

The case proceeded to jury trial.  The witness attended so gave her evidence in accordance with her statement.  Andrew had planned his cross examination so that he concentrated on relevant issues.  It was structured to deal with the following areas:

  • their relationship and how it ended
  • police involvement at our client’s address
  • her feelings for our client as seen on the Messenger chat
  • her delay in reporting the allegations to the police
  • the detail of the incident bearing in mind the brevity of her statement

The last point was perhaps the most important.  When pressed for detail she was unable to provide it or seemed to be making up the detail to provide an answer.  This was not lost on the jury.

Andrew’s client gave evidence on his own behalf, and although the experience and some of the questions asked were clearly frustrating, he gave evidence well.

Closing speech directed at the burden of proof

In closing, Andrew’s speech was able to concentrate on the issues that might be troubling the jury most.  In particular, there was a lack of supporting evidence that such a phone ever ever existed whereas there was evidence that the witness might be prepared to lie about him.

Our client, of course, had the benefit of the fact that the prosecution had to prove the case so that the jury was sure of his guilt.  By a unanimous verdict the jury decided that the prosecution hadn’t done so and he was found ‘not guilty’.

Positive feedback for the service we provide

Although our client remains a serving prisoner and was unable to offer written feedback on the service provided his family did so.  His partner felt able to write in these terms

“I couldn’t of asked for a better solicitor – Andrew Wesley and team did a fantastic job representing my partner.”

His mother watched the trial so was able to comment

 “couldn’t of asked for better representation thank you so much.”

Crown Court Criminal Legal Aid

crown court legal aid jury trialOur client benefited from legal aid so in his case it meant that our representation was free of charge. It is only in exceptional cases that legal aid funding will not be available to a defendant.  This is because it is unlikely that the income of most defendants be too high for legal aid.

Contact a Nottingham Criminal Defence Solicitor

east midlands crime solicitor jury trial
VHS Fletchers East Midlands Offices

Whether you face a police investigation, Magistrates’ Court trial or Crown Court jury trial you will want to engage a specialist firm to ensure the best possible outcome for you.  We provide nationwide advice and representation from our offices across the East Midlands.  Contact details for your nearest office can be found here.

Alternatively you can use the form below to send us an enquiry.